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RIS2, the second 5 year Road Investment Strategy for Highways England went live on 1st April 2020. Under S3 (3) of the Infrastructure Act:

A Road Investment Strategy must specify— (a) the objectives to be achieved by the company during the period to which it relates, and (b) the financial resources to be provided by the Secretary of State for the purpose of achieving those objectives.

But RIS2, while it constantly refers to its objectives, does not spell out what they are neatly avoiding having to specify the financial resources needed to achieve each of them.

Instead in Part 2 “Performance Specification” we are introduced not to objectives but to “six outcome areas. .. upon which we require Highways England to focus” namely

  • Improving safety for all
  • Fast and reliable journeys;
  • A well maintained and resilient network
  • Being environmentally responsible;
  • Meeting the needs of all users
  • Achieving real efficiency

Each outcome are has Performance indicators attached to it which the Office of Rail and Road are required to monitor.

Instead of specifying financial resources to be provided to achieve each objective we get this table:

Looking at the first line we are giving Highways England £6.074 billion to cover non capital expenditure on operations, maintenance, renewal and business costs without any breakdown. How much is for example is going repairing road surfaces? How much on litter clearance? How much on verge maintenance?

No public company board would approve expenditures of such magnitude without a full breakdown of the figure and scrutiny of each element.

The DfT have not complied with the the requirements of the Infrastructure Act in drawing up RIS2.

In reality Highways England are locked into poorly constructed and poorly manned contracts with their area service providers many of them long term highly generous PFI arrangements which simply suck in public money.

The Performance Indicators monitored by a subservient Office of Rail and Road are sticking plasters to hide the long term mismanagement of the Highways England network by the DfT.

 

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